The National, Tuesday 09th April, 2013
I WRITE in response to a news article in the Post-Courier regarding the beche-de-mer (BDM) ban currently placed by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).
First and foremost, the NFA has rightfully placed the moratorium on BDM as there is evidence of overharvesting and species depletion in most of the maritime provinces.
The paper has been an advocate of anti-logging as well as other environmental-related problems and even went to the extreme of campaigning against Nautilus minerals.
Yet it sees fit to force decision-makers to lift the NFA ban.
Unlike those species known only through robotic-generated images under 400m depth, sea cucumbers are found at depth between zero and 40m, at diving and snorkelling range.
They are not plants, but are sedentary animals that do not escape or swim away when one seeks it.
Excessive harvesting of this species can lead to depletion and recovery can take 10 years or more.
The NFA has only placed a three-year ban on BDM but some desperate people are already complaining.
MPs, especially those from Milne Bay, are against the ban but they
are unable to provide alternative services or basic services that their people are craving for.
It seems they want to serve their personal interests rather than that of the people.
These people should make informed decisions based on data and reports provided by the NFA and other non-governmental organisations instead of assumptions.
If the NFA had placed a ban due
to management reasons, then MPs, as elected leaders, should address them so their people are not affected and they must enure their people are not dependent on just one thing.
According to the NFA, the sea cucumbers have not fully recovered, based on their annual biological monitoring data.
The NFA should be commended for making decisions based on data.
We all should be supportive of that and with the help of the NFA, we should start thinking about how we can best manage this resource after the three-year ban so that the NFA would not place another moratorium again due to our carelessness.
Politicians should provide alternate incentives for the people so that they do not have to rely on harvesting BDM.
We also have to learn and understand the roles played by sea cucumbers in a marine ecosystem.